Wednesday, February 22, 2012

what, pray tell, is a geek?

(Um, that is?)

I was asked a fascinating question at my Writers Group last night. After several of us laughed until we cried at one man's short story about Dragon*Con, a confused woman in her forties simply had to know.

What is a geek?

The word used to have negative connotations. Originally coined to describe a sideshow freak who bit the heads off of live chickens (honest, ask Wikipedia), it was synonymous during my youth with nerd, dork, and neo-maxi-zoom-dweebie. No one would ever have admitted to being a geek, back then.

But the term has resurfaced and is now considered by many to be positive. I like this definition the best: A person with a devotion to something that places him or her outside the mainstream. This could be due to the intensity, depth, or subject of their interest.

I admit to being a geek and consider it a badge of honor.

I'm a Star Wars geek. A steampunk geek. A book geek. A Firefly/Joss Whedon geek. A Harry Potter geek. I love Battlestar Gallactica and Dune and Starship Troopers and Star Trek and Labyrinth and Lord of the Rings and the X-Men and the Avengers. I like zombies and vampires and werewolves and pirates. I never stopped dressing up for Halloween.

In short, I like being a geek.

We're like a club. A club of people who may not love all the same fandoms but understand and respect each other's obsessions. We're kind of like the Masons. We have secret passwords. Subtle hand gestures and turns of phrase that spark a feeling of fellow geekdom.

But I think one of the greatest things about geekdom today is that we've in effect taken it back from those who mocked us when we were younger. Oh, you think I'm a geek? I am, and I'm proud of it, and I aim to misbehave. So run along to your socially acceptable sports. I'll be over here talking costume plans for Dragon*Con.

Even after we attempted to explain our geekery last night, I still don't think she understood it. Because if you completely understand it... you're one of us. At the table, we had a tinker geek, a drama geek, a history geek, and two all around scifi/fantasy geeks. And that one lady-- the normal one? She was outnumbered. And that's okay. Geeks don't make fun of people for not being geeks.

Think you're a geek? Awesome!

Don't think you're a geek? Awesome!

Don't understand why I would cop to being a geek? That's okay, too.

Because I have this theory. I think everyone has some little area, some subject interest outside the mainstream. Whether it's cooking with hog jowls or making your own jewelry or collecting expensive sneakers, there's probably a little geek in you, somewhere.

And you never have to come out of the geek closet. We're not going to call you out. We're not going to give you away. We're just going to wait for that day that your eyes shine with obsession and smile, knowing that deep down, you're one of us, too.


Anyone else want to cop to geekdom? What's your flavor?



ChaosMandy said...

I'm a geek and proud of it! My main fandom is Firefly but I pretty much love anything that has to do with sci-fi and fantasy.

Over at GeekMom, my fellow writers and the editors had a discussion a little while ago about how to define what is geeky. We decided that it was anything that we were passionate about so I'm also a professional wrestling (watching, not doing *L*) geek.

Paige Kellerman said...

Oh yes, I've been a geek my entire life. I find solace when I tell others my favorite vamp of all time is Spike, and the other person just goes, "Yes!"

Tanya said...

Go Team Venture!

delilah s. dawson said...

Firefly! Spike! Team Venture!

You are my peeps. *warm huggles*

EttyOop said...

I'm totally a geek. I LOVE being a geek! Star Wars, Star Trek (original, next gen, voyager), FIREFLY (and Dr. Horrible!), Dr. Who, Terry Pratchett, HHGTTG, Gaiman, board games (hello settlers of catan!), Simon Pegg movies, most sci fi/fantasy, Mel Brooks, Monty Python, Miyazaki, most recently steampunk *pointed look in the direction of a certain steampunky author whose book will be in my hands within a matter of weeks*

I'm sure there are many other things I'm forgetting at the moment...

Just... suffice to say that I am a geek. And DAMNED PROUD OF IT!!!

Virginia Valerie said...

We named our kid Joss. Does that qualify?

Zack said...

What I geek out over
lord of the rings books not the movies
Harry potter
old style cartoons
Vampires the Anne rice not the twilight crap.
The Dresden books